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Death From Above - Outrage! Is Now (Album Review)

Thursday, 14 September 2017 Written by Ben Gallivan

No, it’s not a typo. The 1979 is on the scrapheap and Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger are sticking with the name Death From Above. Whether James Murphy and DFA Records have anything else to say on the matter is a question for another day, because first we have ‘Outrage! Is Now’ to deal with.

The Toronto duo’s initial ideas for this record were mooted while they were still putting the finishing touches to their 2014 comeback ‘The Physical World’ – definitely no hint of another hiatus happening there. Buoyed by what they thought was a clear success in the studio, Grainger and Keeler started logging ideas for album three before album two hit the shelves.

‘Outrage!...’ may be classed as a new beginning by the band, but it’s hard to step away from their now trademark sound of thundering bass and percussion topped off with Grainger’s vocal gymnastics.

They try their best, though, and opener Nomad owes more than a little to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Spread Your Love in terms of riffage: it is a stone-cold rock ‘n’ roll stomper. The distorted bass is so heavy in the mix that you can almost see the cones ripping in your speakers as the song progresses.

Teaser single Freeze Me is up next and is pretty much as melodic and downbeat as you’ll hear DFA get – in the verses at least. The bass riff, too, is as soaring and catchy as they come. Together the songs are a triumphant shot in the arm.

Despite classing themselves as punks, there’s a whole lotta blues going on here and slower, more brooding riffs have replaced the thrashier licks from the first record. This shift was alluded to on ‘The Physical World’ but it has become a lot more prevalent here. Caught Up, one of the highlights, is a fine example.

There are a couple of tracks here for those who long for the face-melters in the form of the excellent Moonlight and closer Holy Books, but it does seem like DFA have indeed pushed it up a level with their songwriting (something that wasn’t physically possible with the volume).

Both of their previous records were peppered with big-hitters, but the majority of ‘Outrage!...’ hits the mark. It sounds like an energetic debut rather than the work of a band who have been plying their trade for the best part of 20 years. It’s enough to shake away the last of the cobwebs from their long hiatus.

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